July 24, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Jan Gould, CEO and Co-Founder of Responsive Drip Irrigation

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I grew up in a small town in northeastern Ohio. It was a farming community with a lot of corn fields, grazing cattle and county fairs with kids belonging to 4H. Most all families had a backyard garden in the summer, growing fresh vegetables, melons, and berries. Truly “farm-to-table” meals.

I also am fortunate enough to have a large family, including many grandchildren. It is so important to me that I accept responsibility for the damage that my generation has done to the planet. The burden is on us to make every effort possible to preserve the resources of this planet so that our grandchildren’s grandchildren have a planet to inherit.

Our world is invested in technology—this is an undeniable fact as we find ourselves on our mobile phones and the internet daily, if not hourly. However, technology advances, are just now beginning to tap into the agriculture sector—and this is where I believe our greatest hope lies.

Drip irrigation was one of the innovative solutions that had been developed in order to help solve the problem for increased food production using less water, but it is an innovation that is 60 years old. It has evolved over the years with small improvements, becoming more efficient with smart controllers. However, the technology behind Responsive Drip Irrigation (RDI) GrowStream™ opens the possibility for local farmers to increase the crops they can produce while drastically reducing the water they need to grow them. RDI saves 30-50% more water than conventional drip irrigation and is redefining the standards for water efficiency. By finding new ways to further reduce the water that is used for successful crop growth, we can meet the needs that once seemed impossible.

Describe the process of launching the business.

It took many years of research to launch the business. The concept and invention was created by Dr. Gesser, a chemistry professor. Extensive testing and development was needed to evaluate the system, modify, refine and optimize it. Once the reality of system’s performance was realized, the process of manufacturing the product and commercializing the technology became the next challenge.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

This is the only irrigation system that actually interacts directly with plants to respond to plant signals when they need water. In other words, when plants get thirsty, they release a chemical into the soil that triggers this tech to start releasing water. Growstream™ is a disruptive technology in the irrigation industry, which has been fairly stagnant for the past 50 years.

The search for solutions that can address the needs to feed a growing population with dwindling fresh water supplies, while facing climatic changes certainly brought attention to RDI’s technology. The system’s ability to save water while improving plant health & development to increase crop yields while reducing fertilizer has certainly been a driver for adoption. Especially following the pandemic, when supply chains were disrupted and countries recognized the need for internal food security.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The future looks promising, not just for RDI as a company but for the planet. People from every country in the world were impacted by Covid-19. Following its devastation, I see people working together to rebuild. We must be sensitive to our environment and all of our fellow citizens throughout this journey. We have miles to go to achieve a secure and safe place for the generations to come. There are many areas that will need to be addressed. I believe that RDI’s tech is just a piece in the puzzle, a solution that when integrated with other new methods and practices, we can help to achieve food security, water conservation, carbon sequestering, soil regeneration, reforestation, reve4rsal of desertification and even impact climate change.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Creating an international company required a lot of research to learn about the market needs in different regions and to understand the business and legal requirements in different countries. Fortunately, the advances in technology and communications have made the planet smaller and have brought people together. The resources that are available on the internet and the ability to communicate with people from all over the world via video conferencing have made it possible to pursue these opportunities, making connections with people from other countries and working with them to solve problems and meet these challenges together.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Getting information is much easier through the internet and social media. Of course, media outlets are critical to share the latest news. Since conferences and travel are opening up again, it has been so beneficial to connect with people again. You can always find our latest update as we continue our journey to prevent world hunger and provide a sustainable way of living by reaching us at @responsivedrip on Instagram, Responsive Drip Irrigation on Facebook and LinkedIn as @ResponsiveDrip on Twitter.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Whether written, broadcast, or spoken – anything that reaches a large audience that helps us understand where we stand in the global water and food crisis is important and what I’d consider most influential. Communications on these crucial topics will always find its way through any ear and mouth, as any medium carries its own power in its own way.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

A start-up is like no other business endeavor. It requires commitment and a willingness to work long, hard hours daily. There is no way to short cut or fast track the process. It just takes a tremendous effort and conviction to keep working at it 20 hours plus daily and then to just keep doing it day after day.

Where can we go to learn more?